Thursday, March 11, 2010

Right Message, Wrong Messenger


In an effort to ban what is referred to in a memo as "newspeak," Chicago radio station WGN now has a list of 119 words and phrases that are banned from from its airwaves.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with most of them. As an editor for many years I always substituted the word "about" when the writer used the world "some." And the world "famed" always drove me crazy. If a person really was famous, you didn't need to say so -- his or her name spoke for itself. The problem is most writers use "famed" before a name to mean "You've never heard of this guy and I never heard of him either before I began working on this story but I'm thinking he's a pretty big deal within his small circle of colleagues."

Some of the others on the list are just stupid redundancies such as "close proximity," "at some point in time," "completely destroyed," etc. Others are simply radio station crutches such as "We'll be right back."

So, for the most part, I have absolutely no problem with WGN outlawing these words and phrases. My problem is that the edict should have come from the managing editor, the news editor or someone along those lines. Instead, this one came from new Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels (pictured, upper left). To me, that's almost a bad an example of micro-managing as a Dallas City Council member deciding where zoo animals should be located.

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